Last week the Air Force held its first enlisted drone aircraft pilot selection board. 185 active-duty enlisted airmen who applied for the drone pilot position and passed initial qualifying were being considered. If selected the airmen will begin training in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to prepare them for piloting a drone.

Watch: Why the Air Force has a shortage of drone pilots

We anticipate the board will select 30 airmen with five alternates,” Air Force Personnel Center spokesman Mike Dickerson told on Monday. The board is still “in coordination,” but the results are expected soon, he said.

“Integrating enlisted pilots into the RQ-4 [Global Hawk] community enables the Air Force to meet mission requirements as the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission grows, while providing an opportunity to our highly skilled enlisted force,” said Chief Master Sgt. Eric Rigby, enlisted aircrew assignments chief at AFPC. –


A Global Hawk maintenance team tows an unmanned Global Hawk aircraft at a theater in Southwest Asia. Photo by By Staff Sgt. Christopher Matthews, US Air Force.

The number of airmen interested in becoming Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) pilots has grown significantly since the program was first announced with over 800 applicants in the last year. The Air Force hopes this initiative will help them overcome a shortage of RPA pilots.